Slammers Altitude Black go to work on Championship Sunday, take away 13uD1 Vail Valley World Series title
By Kyle Koso
GYPSUM, Colo. – Amazingly, the Slammers Altitude Black 13u team scored 16 runs in one inning during the Vail Valley World Series.
Surprisingly, pitcher Brady Wright threw a four-inning perfect game for the Slammers earlier in the event.
And memorably, the squad emerged from the loser’s bracket Sunday with three wins, beating USA Prime Mann two times at the Eagle Sports Complex to win the 13uD1 World Series.
The Slammers (Lakewood, CO) started Sunday with a 14-4 win over Saddleback Cowboys Black, then forced the “if” game with a resounding 24-13 victory over USA Prime to set the table for a winning-take-all finale. Summoning the energy and focus not many teams can manage, the Slammers got six strong innings from starter Jackson Bernosky and a timely four-run rally in the fourth to top USA Prime, 6-2, to wrap up one of the signature events on the Triple Crown Sports calendar.
Chris Valerio hit a two-run single in the fourth to push the Slammers ahead, and he added an insurance run in the fifth with a two-out single. Gavin Marsh hit a useful solo home run in the sixth for the Slammers as USA Prime (Arvada, CO) rallied in the top of the seventh, plating a run and loading the bases with two outs before reliever Landon Holmes got the final out on a ground ball to second base.
The Slammers certainly entered the final game Sunday full of belief after the outburst of runs in the game before, with 16 runs coming across in the top of the third inning. And they had to love the sight of Bernosky going to work – he scattered four hits and notched eight strikeouts.
“I’m really just thinking batter to batter, going right at them and nothing else,” said Bernosky, who was in the middle of the key sequences of the game, striking out the side in the sixth after shortstop Travis Varela came up with an unassisted double play to end the fifth. “It shows we have a lot of joy, playing hard, giving the effort. I was feeling good with a lot of energy.”
“That double play, it’s the pitcher’s best friend. We get a hard-hit ball up the middle and Travis makes a good play, takes it himself and that was a great decision,” said Slammer coach Brad Marsh. “And that lets our pitcher go out there and just throw strikes, knowing he’s got the defense behind him. Late in the game, for him to get three strikeouts like that, it just shows you the hard work they put in all year.”
Valerio likened those two innings to getting a Christmas present, something that makes you grateful, and the same could be said for his key RBI moments in a game that was significantly closer than 24-13.
“It felt great to deliver those hits. Being in the 3-hole, they trust me to do my job and get people in,” Valerio said. “My approach is to see what he’s throwing, how he’s throwing, and if I see it again most likely I’ll try to go after that again. We came into this to kick some major butt and wouldn’t take no for an answer, no losing.”
“He’s our 3-hitter and a special human being,” coach Marsh said. “He’s never let adversity get in his way. He’s had some challenges with his health, and to come out here with those quality at-bats in tough times, whatever we ask, he did it.”
Friday, Wright guided the Slammers to a win with four perfect innings, 30 pitches and 25 strikes. In the 24-run outburst Sunday, Ben O’Connor had four hits and four RBI, and Gavin Marsh and Dalton Marsh each had three RBI. In that game for USA Prime, Jeremiah Lucero hit two three-run homers and was pitched to especially carefully in the final, walking three times and getting hit by a pitch.
10uD1 – The Colorado Prospects did the same thing Sunday, winning three times to come out of the loser’s bracket to claim the title. The Prospects (Parker, CO) first topped the OKC Niners, 11-9, then beat Crush Baseball-Gruner 11-10 to force the “if” game. In the finale, the Prospects prevailed, 13-7.